Silverjet ceases operations

As expected, Silverjet ceased all operations on Friday, marooning more believers in the “business-class-only” model and completing the hat trick of airlines in that niche to go bankrupt in the last six months. At root of the issue are the same old villains, high oil prices and lack of demand in the business-class-only market. It’s just too hard to get started as a niche carrier these days.

On their website, the recently deceased airline leaves a brief eulogy and thank you to its dedicated passengers, offering to those stranded: “You are advised to seek alternative travel arrangements with other carriers, and contact your credit card company or travel agent directly for information on obtaining refunds.”

So much for their CEO Lawrence Hunt’s strong words and encouragement after Eos and Maxjet fell.

All eyes are now on L’avion, the French carrier established in 2006 flying under the same business model (but to Paris instead of London). Will they prevail where Maxjet, Eos and Silverjet failed? What about British Airways‘ OpenSkies airlines who are set to fly next month?

I wish there was not as direct a correlation between oil prices and airline bankruptcies as there is now. But if it the statistical data hold true, I’m not sure if anyone has a chance anymore.

Eos Airlines files for bankruptcy

Eos Airlines filed for bankruptcy in the New York courts yesterday. This puts two of the three startup all-business class carriers out of business in the last four months (MaxJet folded in December), leaving Silverjet the only remaining contender.

At least they tried to run a few flights after officially shutting down operations. Several flights between JFK and Stansted ran today in an attempt to get a few strandees moved around. Apparently during the Skybus incident people just showed up at the airport and found kiosks and gates deserted. That’s not cool.

As of Monday, April 28th though, all operations will cease.

If you were booked on Eos, you’re going to need to call your credit card company to explain the situation and dispute the charges. Silverjet is also offering assistance to those stranded on their website, but don’t expect any free handouts.

So long Eos, you’ll be missed. :(

Another high-end Atlantic airliner

We’ve already written about two high-profile and high-end airlines, Silverjet and EOS, that promise spacious seats (that morph into beds) and an end to those coach class ghettos.

It seems the big boys want a piece of the pie. Starting in June, British Airways will start running flights from New York to various European cities under the subsidiary “OpenSkies,” their new premium-level airline. Here’s the run-down on the cabin configuration, using a Boeing 757. There will be 24 flat-bed seats, 28 “premium-economy” seats with 52 inches of legroom, and curiously, 30 coach seats.

It seems the coach seats, which were controversial, were added to entice stingier customers to upgrade (the theory goes they won’t be able to say no once they see the reclining beds).

The verdict is still out on premium flights like these. Virgin Atlantic has been running them for quite a while, and it’s catching on, though not like wildfire. Either way, I’d love to land a seat on one of these flights. Anyone have a spare ticket :-)?

EOS Jets: 48 Seats On A Plane Built For 220

Last year, Neil waxed positively rapturous about EOS Jets’ announcement that it would offer trans-Atlantic seats that fold down into beds. Guess what? They carried through on their promise.

With only 48 seats on a plane built for 220, each guest gets a whopping 21 square feet of personal space — which EOS calls a “personal suite” — or roughly 40% more than most airlines offer. Moreover, the seats are adjustable, so you can sit in them, sprawl in them, lay down in them — they’re big enough for a person 6’6″ to recline completely! — or configure them to conduct a business meeting, though I don’t know why anyone would want to do that.

With its unique galley configuration, EOS also managed to make it so you don’t have to sit next to that annoying dude slurping his soft drink and spilling crumbs all down that Cheeto-stand he calls a stomach.

Similarly, that kid won’t be looking over your shoulder as you type or watch your DVDs.

There is no coach class on EOS — it’s a premium business class airline ONLY — which means that you might see stuffed shirts like this on any give flight. However, to mix things up a bit, I recommend ditching the turtlenecks and sport coats, slipping on some flip-flops and shorts, and playing a hearty game of Quarters.

Tickets aren’t cheap, but for people who make frequent NYC-to-London trips, the benefit of a solid sleep may exceed the cost.